Blood of the Reich
by William Dietrich
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780061989193
Date: 27 December 2011 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
Blood of the Reich involves a search for the mythical kingdom of Shambhala in Tibet. Shambhala was believed to hold ancient mystical powers. The beginning of the novel follows three plot lines. In 1938, Kurt Raeder, a Nazi officer and scientist tasked by none other than Himmler himself, leads an expedition to Tibet to find Shambhala's mystical powers and bring them back to Germany to help the Aryans take over the world. Himmler believes the Tibetan and the Aryans shared common ancestry, hence Blood of the Reich refers to DNA, and not to an actual war. Raeder is crazy beyond any of the traditional stereotypes of Nazi officers. He's ruthless, suspected of murder and a rapist, but that is just a side story to the actual plot.
At the same time, the American intelligence community hears of Raeder's expedition and sends an American scientist to stop him. Benjamin Hood is from a wealthy and prominent family and toured Tibet with Raeder on a previous scientific expedition. Hood and Raeder cross paths in Tibet and eventually find the sought-after goal (I don't want to give away too much of the story). At first, I thought Shambhala was some kind of hocus-pocus and the plot reminded me of the many stories about finding Atlantis. Later on, however, the author is able to explain the mysticism in scientific terms, at least enough that I am able to accept it and make the story believable.
The third plot line is present day and involves Rominy Pickett. A Seattle news reporter, Jake Barrow, rescues her from near death when her car explodes. They follow in a mad escape where a bunch of neo-Nazis are chasing them. Rominy was adopted and has no idea that she is the great-granddaughter of Benjamin Hood, or why the Nazis are so interested in her or this "thing" that Benjamin Hood supposedly discovered seventy years ago. Barrow explains that he has been researching the Shambhala story for a long time to get the scoop of a lifetime for his newspaper and Rominy eventually learns to trust him. Rominy picks up her rightful inheritance and then they go to Hood's old cabin in the Seattle mountains to look for clues. Eventually they head to Tibet (once again, I don't want to give away too much of the plot) to find out what the Shambhala myth is all about.
The novel really picks up on the present-day Tibet travels. I found the Kurt Raeder trek across Tibet to be a little boring and I was happy that the novel turned into a first-class mystery. I could not read fast enough once the present-day Tibetan adventure started. The plot takes many twists and turns too, which adds to the interest.
I already mentioned, I really liked Blood of the Reich. I do not know much about the topography of Tibet, and I think I would have enjoyed reading about Raeder's trek across the rugged landscape more if I had a little more background knowledge. Benjamin Hood is certainly a playboy, but his womanizing is entertaining. I was suspecting a novel about the fighting and German actions of WWII and was pleasantly surprised when "blood" referred to bloodline and not to the Second World War. For die-hard WWII fiction-phobes, you still get a little fix between Raeder and Himmler when planning the Tibet trip. Modern-day Tibet was excellent.
I look forward to reading more books by William Dietrich.